Carnival and the Arts

Through the development of Carnival, art forms such as the mas, calypso and steelband have added to the eminence of the festival. However, it is the creation and depiction of the mas that has through time been the hub of the festival displaying multiple artistic sources. Such sources include the ethnical influences, the growth of craftsmanship in costume design, use of motion, symbols, motifs and the act of pantomime. The making and portrayal of the mas highly indicates the richness of Carnival artistry.
Ethnical influences of the mas have added to the aesthetic form of the festival. African artistic sources are present although their original form may have changed. A common theme in Carnival bands is that of Obeah, an African medicinal system. The use of motifs such as sculls, bones, shells, feathers and fiber skirts are reminiscent of African dress and are used in African masking traditions. African tribal themes are also portrayed and this requires the use of body paint, coiffures and shields. In 1984, Peter Minshall designed the costume of the "The Callaloo King" which was the reinterpretation of the masks of the African nations of Mali and Borkino Faso. At present, there are various African linked figures that are part of the Trinidad Carnival. Among these include the "Moco Jumbie" which can be traced back to West Africa. The practice of stilt dancing is a distinct African tradition and the term "moco jumbie" is derived from "mumbo jumbo" a clear West African phrase. Another ethnical source of Carnival is that of Asian influence. The festivals of Islam and Hinduism have trickled down to Carnival and this can be openly seen in the wheeled costumes of the King and Queen of the bands, as this is traditional of East Indian festivals. Mas-man Richard Bartholomew's band "Liming" included a section entitled, "Hosay Liming" in which there was a moon costume. Indian music…


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